Belgian discount supermarket chain Colruyt has warned that profits in its current financial year may not reach the level generated in the previous 12 months.

Analysts are expecting a 4.4% increase of net profit to EUR353m (US$474.4m) in the year to the end of March 2012.

But Jef Colruyt, chairman of Colruyt, speaking at the company's annual shareholder meeting at its headquarters in Halle, gave indications that profits will hover around the same level as last year.

He said: “In the financial year 2011/2012, we seek to achieve a consolidated net result that comes close to that of the closed financial year.”

An exact forecast, he added, was difficult to give because the political, financial and economic market is “edgy” and customers are insecure and “keep a tight hand on their purse”.

He added that the rising price of raw materials has affected the company's margins, as  they can “only partly” pass costs on to customers.